In preparing for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Vision Australia has sought to answer many of the key questions regarding the development and implementation of the scheme and its impact on our clients and the range of services Vision Australia provides.
You can find Frequently Asked Questions on the following topics:
Q. What is the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)?
The National Disability Insurance Scheme is a new national scheme designed to help improve disability services and provide greater control and decision making to people with disability in Australia.
Q. How will it work?
The NDIS will include a comprehensive information and referral service to help people with disability who need access to mainstream, disability and community support. For people who have a permanent disability that impacts on their life, the scheme will provide long term, high quality support.
It will also include intensive early intervention, particularly where there is good evidence it will substantially improve or arrest a decline in functioning. People will be able to decide for themselves how to manage their care and support, and choose how they want to manage their supports.
The level of individual funding and support will be directly related to addressing the impact of a disability on that person’s functioning in key areas of life. An eligible person would be funded on an annual basis to purchase services, aids and equipment from a variety of providers. As a person’s circumstances or condition changes, they will be able to apply to have their funded plan adjusted accordingly.
Q. Why is the term insurance used?
The NDIA’s explanation about the four key insurance principles in their draft Strategic Plan is as follows:
“First and most importantly, in a similar way to insurance premium revenue, the total annual funding base required by the NDIS will be determined by an actuarial estimate of the reasonable and necessary support needs of the target population. Like other insurance schemes, it will then continually compare these estimates of scheme utilisation and costs with actual experience and outcomes. It will also build comprehensive data bases to allow more effective service models to be quickly identified and so build in continuous improvements.
“Second, government welfare schemes have a very short-term focus on minimising costs in a particular budget year. In contrast, the NDIS will seek to minimise support costs over a person’s lifetime and maximise their opportunities. The NDIS will therefore invest in tailored early intervention services and nurture and support families and carers in their roles. There is therefore a much closer alignment of interests between people with disability, their families and carers and the NDIS, compared with the previous welfare-based approach to disability support services.
“Third, as part of its insurance-based governance model and longer-term approach, the NDIS will invest in research and encourage innovation. Under the previous National Disability Agreement there was minimal investment in research.
“Fourth, insurers, like the NDIA, can act at the systemic level, as well as fund individual support needs. This includes building community capability and social capital, which will be especially important for people with disability who are not participants, their families and carers.
“For the NDIA another very high priority will be encouraging the full inclusion of people with disability, their families and carers in mainstream community life, through increased social and economic participation. This will benefit individuals and the nation, and according to the Productivity Commission, it is expected that the NDIS will add close to 1% to GDP.”
Q. What services and equipment will the NDIS provide?
The NDIS will provide funding for ‘reasonable and necessary’ support, services and equipment. Clause 34 of the National Disability Insurance Act sets out guidelines to help decide what can be funded but generally the supports and services should assist a person to:
achieve your goals
do things on your own and become independent
develop skills for day to day living
take part in the community
work and earn money.
The practical application of this means:
- Mobility – moving safely in the home or community (equipment and advice for the home, a cane, a seeing eye dog, training on how to use these things as well as any residual vision);
- Communication – special and general devices and training that helps with reading and writing (assistive technology – Scanners, Refreshable Braille displays, Magnifiers, portable and desktop CCTVs; and software – screen readers, JAWS) and general communication technology that a person with vision loss can use like smart phones;
- Self-care and self-management – strategies, training, tips and equipment to organise your home and identify items;
- Social interaction – this could include services or activities to help you link and connect with the community, and support to participate in recreation, cultural and sporting activities;
- Learning – includes supports such as early intervention, aids and equipment, training, and/or access to a variety of services such as literacy services (like Braille, access to our Feelix Library for Children, adaptive technology training), vocational education and training, therapy, accessing information, and transcription. You may also need help getting there and getting around such as orientation and mobility training. It will depend on a person’s life stage – a child, a young person, and adult. Of course, individual needs will vary according to life stage; and
- Capacity for social and economic participation – supports to assist you to have a job and participate in the community. Could you benefit from aids and equipment, training, counselling, peer and emotional support as well as other practical assistance to help achieve your personal and community goals?
Think about all your daily activities and when developing your plan, you should explore how you can use aids, equipment, training and support to make your life easier. Do not feel limited by your current level of support or any conditions on where or how you could use that equipment or training. Explore all opportunities for support.
Q. When and where does the new scheme start?
The NDIS launched on 1 July 2013 in four locations:
- Trial site covers Barwon region local government areas of the City of Greater Geelong, the Colac-Otway Shire, the Borough of Queenscliffe and the Surf Coast Shire.
- Total of 5,000 participants aged 0-65 years.
- Full scheme begins 1 July 2016 with full coverage by 2019/20.
- Vision Australia has one office in the Victorian trial site at 79 High Street, Belmont.
New South Wales
- Trial site covers Hunter region local government areas of Newcastle, Maitland and Lake Macquarie. 10,000 participants aged 0-65 years.
- 3,000 participants in Newcastle from 1 July 2013.
- 2,000 participants in Lake Macquarie from 1 July 2014.
- 5,000 participants in Maitland from 1 July 2015.
- Full scheme begins 1 July 2016 with full coverage by 2018/19.
- Vision Australia has one office in the NSW trial site at 7-9 Beaumont St, Hamilton.
- Trial site covers the entire state.
- 5,000 participants aged 0-14 years old.
- 1,600 participants aged 0-5 years from 1 July 2013.
- 3,000 participants aged 0-13 years from 1 July 2014.
- 400 participants aged 0-14 years from 1 July 2015.
- Full scheme begins 1 July 2016 with full coverage by 2018/19.
- Vision Australia does not have an office in the SA trial site area but delivers library and Seeing Eye Dog services to South Australians.
- Trial site covers the entire state.
- 1,000 participants aged 15-24 years.
- Full scheme begins 1 July 2016 with full coverage by 2019/20.
- Vision Australia does not have an office in the Tasmanian trial site but delivers library and Seeing Eye Dog services to Tasmanians.
From 1 July 2014, the scheme will launch in the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Western Australia.
Australian Capital Territory
Trial site covers the entire ACT.
5,000 participants aged 0-65 years.
Full scheme by 1 July 2016 with full coverage by 2019/20.
- Vision Australia has one office in the ACT trial site at 2nd Floor, 22 East Row, Canberra.
- Launch site covers Barkly region.
- 100 participants aged 0-65 years.
- Full scheme begins 1 July 2019/20.
- Vision Australia does not have an office in the Northern Territory trial site but delivers library and Seeing Eye Dog services to the area.
- Three trial site areas. One in the Perth Hills area will be administered by the National Disability Insurance Agency.
- Two others in the Lower South-West and Cockburn-Kwinana will be administered by the WA Disability Services Commission and operate as My Way pilots.
- Approx. 8,400 participants in total.
- Trial period has been set for two years.
- Agreement between the two governments on the full state-wide implementation of the scheme is yet to be reached.
- Vision Australia does not have an office in Western Australia trial sites but delivers library and Seeing Eye Dog services to the state.
- No detail yet for a trial site.
- Full scheme begins 1 July 2019 with full coverage by 2020/21.
Q. Why is the National Disability Insurance Scheme being trialled in only a few locations?
Governments are building the scheme in selected locations in the first instance to ensure that the implementation of the scheme is informed by feedback from people with disability, their families and carers, service providers and community organisations.
The new scheme will involve major changes to the way that governments work with people with disability, their families and carers and service providers. Governments want to make sure that they get this reform right so that we build a system that is sustainable over the long term for people with disability, their families and carers.
Trialling the scheme in selected locations will provide valuable experience and evidence to inform its further implementation nationally.
Q. Who will be eligible?
Eligibility for individual support packages and financial support depends on:
geographic location - you must live within the area where the National Disability Insurance Scheme is being launched.
age – you have to be aged between 0 and 65 years old, except for Tasmania (young people aged 15-24 years old – for the launch period only), and South Australia (children aged 0-14 years but starting in the first year with 0-5 year olds, 0-13 year olds in the second year and 0-14 in the third year – for the launch period only).
disability requirement – you will be assessed based on the impact of your disability on functional capacity to communicate, interact socially, learn, move safely around your home and the built environment, manage your personal care and affairs (banking, bill paying etc); and/or
early intervention requirement – early intervention supports will be available to achieve a benefit that would help mitigate the effects of your impairment to alleviate or prevent the deterioration of functional capacity, or strengthen your informal supports.
People aged over 65 years at the time they request NDIS support will not be eligible. However, future participants can choose to continue with the NDIS once they turn 65.
Q. Will eligible clients be contacted personally by the National Disability Insurance Agency?
Some eligible clients may be contacted by the Agency, however we encourage people to be proactive and contact the Agency so that your interest can be logged.
The NDIS website also has an accessible checker called My Access Checker, go to www.ndis.gov.au/my-access-checker so you can get an idea of your own eligibility.
If you are still not sure about your eligibility, contact Vision Australia on 1300 84 74 66 and we can help you through the process.
Q. What happens if you’re not eligible?
People who are not eligible for individual funding under the National Disability Insurance Scheme can still get advice and information from them.
For those who apply but are unsuccessful, there will be a review and appeals process. There will be an internal review process as a first step. The next step, as described in the legislation is to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. (link: http://www.aat.gov.au/AboutTheAAT.htm
Q. Will existing clients of Vision Australia who are ineligible for NDIS funding still be able to access support services for free?
Vision Australia will continue to provide services to people who are blind or have low vision. To find out if you are eligible for Vision Australia services please call us on 1300 84 74 66 or visit our website at www.visionaustralia.org
Q. How will the National Disability Insurance Scheme affect me?
The main function of the National Disability Insurance Scheme will be to fund long-term high quality care and support (excluding income replacement) for people with significant disabilities. All Australians would be covered with about 460,000 people able to receive funding support through the scheme at any given time.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme will also aim to better link the community and people with disabilities, provide information to people, help break down stereotypes, ensure standards in quality of service and encourage best practice among providers.
Q. Where can I find more information about the NDIS?
You can find more information online at the NDIS website – visit www.ndis.gov.au
or call the National Disability Insurance Agency on 1800 800 110 between 8am and 8pm (EST) weekdays.
You can also check in with Vision Australia at www.visionaustralia.org or by calling 1300 84 74 66.
Assessment, Eligibility and Planning
Q. How can I check to see if I am eligible for the NDIS?
You can check your eligibility on the NDIS website’s My Access Checker.
My Access Checker is a tool with a series of questions to help a person with a permanent and significant disability, or their representative, understand whether they may be able to access assistance from the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This process is anonymous, so you will only be asked for your first name.
It could take between 10 and 20 minutes to complete. To use My Access Checker, go to www.ndis.gov.au/my-access-checker
Q. How will assessment work?
The eligibility assessment process for National Disability Insurance Scheme support will be managed by the National Disability Insurance Agency according to the legislation (Part 1, Chapter 3) and Rules (Draft Rules for becoming a participant, Part 6) that are not yet finalised.
If you already have an assessment, you can take this along when you meet with NDIA and you shouldn’t have to be reassessed.
The Assessment Tool used by the Agency will be very broad in relation to sensory loss and the Agency can seek a report from specialist providers like Vision Australia.
The Assessment has no connection to how much money the participant will get.
Q. Will Vision Australia conduct eligibility assessments?
No, Vision Australia will not conduct eligibility assessments as this process will be managed by the NDIA. However there is scope for Vision Australia to provide advice to the Agency during the process.
Q. Will the assessment be specific to disability types?
There will be assessments as follows:
- Eligibility assessment – which will be undertaken by the NDIA to determine whether a person can access funding.
- Planning assessment – to help determine a person’s goals and
- There is scope for the Agency to call in advice for specialist assessments.
Q. Who will be doing the assessment?
The NDIA will employ staff who will carry out the assessments, using agreed systems and tools, ensuring consistency, fairness and viability. There is scope for the Agency to call on specialist advice.
Q. Will Vision Australia receive funding to conduct eligibility assessments?
No – Eligibility assessments will be undertaken by the NDIA.
Q. Will I have to travel far for the assessment?
There will be a range of ways a person can access the NDIS, including online, face-to-face, over the telephone or through a referral.
Q. I am blind – it won’t change. Do I have to be assessed?
You will not need to constantly re-prove eligibility. Your assessment will be used to help determine:
- Eligibility – access to the NDIS;
- Support planning – the level of support you require;
The NDIS will also incorporate monitoring and review within a person’s plan to accommodate changes in individual’s needs or circumstances.
Q. What is the role of the Planner?
The planner’s first task will be to confirm the eligibility of the person for the NDIS. Secondly, the planner will discuss with the participant their needs, goals and aspirations.
This will inform the development of a ‘Statement of Goals and Aspirations’ for the participant.
Following this, the planner and participant will work together to identify what current and future supports will be required to make progress on the participant’s goals. This part of the plan, the “Statement of Participant’s Supports,” sets out the supports that will be provided or funded by the NDIS.
These two statements make up the “plan” for each participant. The plan is owned by the participant and is based on what is regarded as reasonable and necessary to enable a good life.
It could include one-off and/or ongoing funded supports. What is reasonable and necessary support is likely to be checked against a set of ‘reference packages’ developed by the Agency.
For more detail on the NDIS Operational Guidelines about planning refer to www.ndis.gov.au/document/323
Q. Am I responsible for managing my own plan? Is there support available?
An eligible person will be able to determine how their plan is managed. Participants can choose to:
- Self-manage the financial and administrative processes: The Agency anticipates up to 20% of participants may select this option. A participant may request to have a plan nominee support them with these processes.
- Use a Plan Management Provider: The participant may engage a business/ organisation to undertake the financial and administrative processes on their behalf. This includes the processes of organising the financial and administrative aspects of a participant’s plan, such as paying supplier invoices, developing service agreements with providers, assisting with the hiring and paying of staff, and preparing reports on how funds are being used.
- Nominate the Agency to play this role: The Agency would make all the payments necessary to any Registered Providers of Supports identified by the participant.
Q. Can service delivery organisations like Vision Australia manage my plan?
Registered Plan Management Providers can also be a Registered Provider of Supports but need to be able to demonstrate that there is no conflict of interest in operating both types of services.
Q. Will Vision Australia be a registered plan management provider (broker) of services under the NDIS?
Vision Australia is exploring options however at this stage, Vision Australia is not a registered plan management provider.
However, we are focussed on providing the best services possible under the NDIS and will continue to provide updated information on our website at www.visionaustralia.org through continuing communications and forums in 2013.
Q. Will NDIS plan management services incur GST?
Yes. Plan management is a service that will attract GST. However, these costs will be worked into a participant’s plan and funding allocation.
What will the National Disability Insurance Scheme cover?
Q. What sort of services will I get?
The concept of reasonable and necessary supports will determine the scope of what the scheme provides. It means the scheme will provide a participant with what is necessary to achieve their goals and aspirations and take part in the community, in keeping with what it is reasonable to expect a scheme to provide.
In addition to specialist disability services, the NDIS is likely to cover other supports offered to many people with disability, including aids and equipment, home and community care, personal care, domestic assistance, respite, home and vehicle modifications and community access.
Supports which are already available from other mainstream services, including from health, housing, education, aged care sectors, are not likely to be covered by the NDIS.
Q. Will there be choice and flexibility with regards to what can be purchased with the funds?
A participant’s funding will be divided into two parts – fixed supports and flexible supports. The fixed supports will need to be spent on specified supports such as equipment, home modifications and certain types of early intervention services.
Generally speaking, fixed supports are those services which are deemed necessary to ensure the participant goal or outcome can be met, or require certain skills or qualifications of the provider of supports.
The flexible supports will be prescribed in more general terms and will enable the participant greater flexibility in selecting the types of supports they wish purchase.
Q. What types of supports and services will not be funded?
Supports that will not be funded include those that are:
- likely to cause harm to the participant or pose a risk to others;
- unrelated to the participant’s disability;
- duplicate other supports provided under alternative funding;
- part of the day-to-day living expenses that are incurred by the general public and not related to disability support needs (e.g. rent, groceries, household bills); and
- related to income replacement.
Q. Will clinical and medical services be covered by the NDIS?
No. The Medicare system covers the health and medical needs and costs of Australians dealing with the hospital and healthcare systems.
Q. Will carers be funded through the NDIS?
Individuals who are funded directly by the NDIS will allocate and spend money on services and supports that meet their needs as outlined in their approved plans.
These plans may include arrangements to reimburse carers in some instances. Ultimately the NDIA will be the decision maker on what may be included in a plan.
Q. How will I be able to choose the things I want?
A key emphasis of the NDIS will be on giving individuals greater choice and control on what services they receive.
An individualised package will include the ability to choose one or more service agencies to provide the supports identified in the package. People could change providers if they did not meet their needs adequately.
They could employ the support workers they want, or choose to buy pre-packaged supports from specialist and mainstream providers.
If participants wish, they could get support from intermediaries in making their choices and handling administrative tasks. They could also choose to manage their own package, and purchase their own supports.
Q. Will Vision Australia’s recreational services be limited as a result of the introduction of self-directed funding?
Vision Australia will continue to provide services and support to Australians who are blind or have low vision. We are working to understand the details and implications of the NDIS on the types of services we provide and the way in which we can provide them.
Q. Will Centrelink be responsible for administering NDIS funds?
No. The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) will be responsible for administering overall funds according to the legislation. Individuals will be responsible for managing their own funds, and may elect to nominate the agency or another person to assist them to manage their funds.
Q. What are the laws and rules for the NDIS?
On 21 March 2013, the Australian Parliament passed the National Disability Insurance Act 2013 to establish the scheme. The legislation was passed unanimously by the Parliament, meaning that all political parties support it.
- Establishes a Launch Transition Agency (including a Board and Advisory Council) as an independent body, to work with people with disability to identify their goals and aspirations, and provide them with the support they need to help them reach their full potential.
- Sets out the principles and objects on which the scheme is based.
- Outlines how people can become participants.
- Covers the personal planning process that enables people to identify what they need and to choose the type of supports and services they use, who provides them, and how they are designed and provided.
- Allows arrangements to enable people to purchase their own supports if they wish.
- Details requirements for registration of service providers.
- Provides protection of personal information.
- Describes the review process of decisions by the Agency.
- Enables the launch of the scheme from 1 July 2013 to proceed in South Australia, Tasmania, the Barwon region of Victoria and the Hunter in New South Wales. The ACT launch will start in July 2014.
There are also certain rules being developed about how the scheme will work in practice – they are the finer details that are not able to be fully covered in the legislation.
The rules cover how people with disability can apply to the scheme, age and residency requirements, definitions of disability and impairment, and how the agency will determine what supports are reasonable to meet a person’s needs. It will also cover other issues such as the disclosure and protection of personal information. Funding facts and figures
Funding facts and figures
Q. How much will the NDIS cost?
The scheme will cost $22.2 billion a year when it is fully operational in 2019-20.
Q. Does the Federal Government cover the full cost of the scheme?
No. The Budget papers show the government will provide 53% or $11.7 billion of the funding for the scheme when it is fully operational.
It will also be funded in part by a rise in the Medicare levy from 1.5 to 2% from July 2014 that will raise $20.4 billion between 2014-15 and 2018-19.
Q. Will there be a levy as in Medicare?
Yes. To help fund the scheme, the Medicare levy has been increased from 1.5% of taxable income to 2% from July 2014.
Q. Who will pay the levy?
Most taxpayers pay the Medicare levy, but people earning less than $19,404 are exempt, as are blind pensioners, people receiving sickness allowance and holders of a veteran’s gold card. Some seniors and pensioners may pay a reduced levy depending upon their income.
Q. How much money will the levy increase cost?
The Government estimates the increase to the levy will raise $3.3 billion in the first year and $20.4 billion by 2018-19.
Q. How much extra will I pay?
The annual cost to taxpayers will be:
- About $150 extra for those earning $30,000
- About $350 extra for those earning $70,000
- About $550 extra for those earning $110,000
Q. How will the Medicare levy be spent?
All money raised by the levy increase will be placed in an NDIS Fund (the Fund) for 10 years which will only be drawn upon to fund the additional costs of delivering the NDIS.
A fixed amount of the money flowing into the Fund each year will be set aside for the States and Territories. The annual amount allocated to the Fund will be grown in future years by 3.5% per year.
To support early establishment costs, eligible States and Territories will be able to access part of their annual allocation (10% in 2015-16, and 20% in 2016-17 and 2017-18) once they have clients participating in the scheme.
In 2019-20, the breakdown of the contributions from States and Territories will be:
- $3.2bn for NSW
- $2.5bn for Victoria
- $2bn for Queensland
- $976m for Western Australia
- $750m for South Australia
- $230m for Tasmania
- $170m for ACT
- $100m for Northern Territory
Q. How will the NDIS impact on existing services like taxi card, travel pass, and other subsidies provided to people who are blind or have low vision?
We don’t expect there will be any negative impact on subsidies currently provided to people with disability.
Q. Will my Mobility Allowance be affected if I become a participant in the NDIS?
Yes. A person with disability will have their reasonable and necessary mobility needs assessed and included in their package of supports. Therefore, a person cannot be a participant of the NDIS and receive Mobility Allowance at the same time.
This is because the NDIA will consider the reasonable and necessary transport and mobility needs of individuals when developing a package of supports.
An amendment to the Social Security Act 1991 has been made to prevent dual receipt of Mobility Allowance and a funded package of support provided by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
However, a person with disability cannot be disadvantaged overall by the ceasing of Mobility Allowance as a result of receiving an NDIS funded package of supports.
Q. If I receive an NDIS package and leave a trial site, will I receive Mobility Allowance?
A participant with a funded package of supports who leaves a trial site will be ineligible for Mobility Allowance for a period of 12 months because, under portability provisions, their funded supports will continue for that period.
Q. I live in an NDIS trial site but I am not a participant in the NDIS. Will my Mobility Allowance be affected?
No. Mobility Allowance will continue, unaffected, for recipients of Mobility Allowance residing in launch sites who do not become participants of the NDIS.
Q. Will access to NDIS funding impact on access to the Disability Support Pension – Blind?
There are no changes to arrangements in relation to the Disability Support Pension as a result of the NDIS.
Q. What will be the NDIA’s relationship with Department of Veterans Affairs?
Income supports and payments such as the Disability Support Pension, Carer Payment, Carer Supplement, Carer Allowance and the Child Disability Assistance Payment will be outside the NDIS. These payments cover a broad group of people with disabilities.
Q. Will employment impact on a person’s eligibility for NDIS funding?
There will be no income or asset tests for obtaining funded NDIS services.
Q. What will happen to block funding under the new scheme?
The change from ‘block funding’ to Individual Support Packages (ISPs) means existing providers need to modify the way they do business. There are complex administrative arrangements that will need to be untangled as existing programs are transitioned into the new scheme.
Some existing specific programs will transition more quickly (for example Better Start for Children Initiative) and the NDIS will work with service providers to identify which ones. It will vary across states and launch sites.
There will also still be some block funding provided such as:
- In ‘thin markets’ (where there are insufficient numbers of participants to support a service provider or a particular specialised provider), the administering agency would continue to provide block funding to enable the provision of services (likely to be the case in most non-metropolitan remote and some regional areas of all states/Northern Territory); and
Where supports are identified as being more cost effective or efficient such as when the NDIA is managing a sufficient number of ISPs and could instead develop fee-for-service contracts directly with service providers.
The trial sites
Q. What if I live in a trial site now, apply for NDIS and then change address?
To keep getting support through the scheme you have to live in a trial site. Until the full roll out of the scheme, nothing will change for people who live outside the trial sites.
Q. Do I have to apply to get services in a trial site?
Yes, you will need to apply to receive services in the trial site and can apply any time after 1 July 2013. You can contact the Agency to log your details, or you can contact us on 1300 84 74 66.
We are aware the NDIA will be making direct contact with some people who are already receiving individual supports in the trial sites.
Q. What if I do not want NDIS support but still want services from Vision Australia?
Under the NDIS, the way we are funded to provide services will change. The funding environment is changing from agencies being funded to clients being funded therefore it’s important for all clients who are eligible to access funding to do so.
We want you to check whether you are eligible and we can help you do that. You can do this online at www.ndis.gov.au/my-access-checker
If you are eligible – we will have packages of services available to you that meet the requirements of the new scheme.
If you are not eligible – we will still provide services utilising other sources of funding.
Block funding will be phased out.
Q. Will block funding still be provided at trial sites?
Under the NDIS, existing service providers will still play a core role in working with people with disability. Existing service arrangements will continue to be in place throughout the implementation period (2013-18) of the Scheme.
The extent of block funding will reduce over time with individuals able to make their own choices of where and how to use their own funding packages.
About Vision Australia
Q. Does Vision Australia support the NDIS?
Yes. Vision Australia has actively and constructively engaged the various consultation and inquiry processes associated with the development of reform proposals in disability, consistently urging decision makers to take account of support for Australians who are blind or have low vision, to facilitate their choices, independence and safety.
We are a strong, official supporter of the Every Australian Counts campaign. To support the Every Australian Counts campaign, go online to www.everyaustraliancounts.com.au.
Q. How will the introduction of the NDIS affect Vision Australia?
Vision Australia is closely monitoring the progress of the NDIS so that, as developments come to light, they can be incorporated into how we respond and how we will operate.
We are actively engaging with clients, staff and volunteers. We have undertaken consultation and information sessions during 2012 and continuing in 2013 that are playing an important role in increasing awareness of the introduction of the NDIS and its effect, as well as incorporating vital feedback, questions and ideas into our thinking. We will continue to engage with people who are blind or have low vision, staff and volunteers.
Q. What is Vision Australia doing in the trial sites?
Vision Australia has appointed an NDIS Project Director, a position included in the Executive and accountable for Vision Australia’s participation in the trial sites.
Vision Australia Demonstration Sites have been established in our existing offices in Geelong, Newcastle and Canberra which fall within trial sites as well as the Orange office in regional NSW. The Demonstration Sites willl:
- Be positioned within Vision Australia as reporting to the Project Director Disability Care Australia, thus having a higher degree of autonomy to innovate and implement beneficial change;
- Transfer all staff within these Demonstration Sites to the Project Director thus reducing unnecessary structural fragmentation;
- Rebuild team culture based on foundations of excellence in client services, being adaptable and flexible thus embracing change, being innovative and tolerant of measured risk taking, and being accountable for performance;
- Test new service development initiatives, learn from these experiences, develop an evidence base of what works and why, and transfer knowledge to other parts of Vision Australia.
Q. What is the purpose of creating ‘Demonstration Sites’?
In establishing Demonstration Sites we are seeking to create the Vision Australia “services of the future,” in a contained and experimental way. This has obvious advantages, the most significant that we are able to implement change in a contained manner, but at the same time demonstrate progress in Vision Australia’s reform to both external and internal stakeholders.
It is also critical that there is local and organisational level relationships built with the NDIA. As we test our capacity to be innovative, meeting the choices and aspirations of our consumers, the NDIA will be testing and adjusting as well. This is why we need to maintain and build our influencing role in the trial sites as a step towards what the NDIS looks like in 2018 when it goes national.
Q. Has Vision Australia contributed to the development of the NDIS?
Vision Australia has been successful in creating political and bureaucratic relationships through the development process of the NDIS. This has meant that in partnership with some of our sector players, we have been successful in having the NDIS entry opened to the extent where people who have low vision get through the door. This relates directly to having an impairment that is permanent, or likely to be permanent, providing opportunity to address functional need.
The impact of the NDIS on our older clients and our organisation is equally vital. We have to continue to lobby on “disability services for seniors” in the same way. The entry point to the Australian Government’s aged care packages at this stage is not clear for our seniors.
We have to work to make sure they get through the door. This is a longer term piece of work and we must acknowledge that whatever it looks like, it is consistent with the framework of choice, need and functionality.
Q. How many people does Vision Australia estimate are affected by blindness or low vision?
Vision Australia estimates there are 333,000 people in Australia who have identified themselves as being blind or having low vision. Of these, approximately 10% (or 33,000) are legally blind and 90% (or 300,000) have low vision. (Refractive error not included).*
Blindness and loss of vision affects people in different ways. Effects on day-to-day living include loss of driving licence, employment, ability to access information or safely move in the community.
Based on current Disability Support Pension (Blind) figures, there are around 12,000 Australians under 65 years of age who are legally blind, and around 14,000 Australian seniors who are legally blind.
Q. What will happen to Vision Australia fundraising when the NDIS is introduced?
Fundraising is an extremely important part of Vision Australia’s activities, bringing in much needed funds that we use to operate and provide services to all Australians who are blind or have low vision. We will continue to undertake fundraising activities to ensure we can continue to deliver our services to the community.
Q. What does the NDIS mean for people over 65 years old with blindness or low vision?
People over 65 years old are not eligible for direct NDIS support. There are some exceptions:
- people who are eligible to access DisabilityCare before they turn 65 will be able to choose to continue to receive DisabilityCare support or opt into the aged care system.
- Some clients aged over 65 years old currently access programs at Vision Australia which are block funded through Victorian Government disability funding. In relation to Barwon, if an individual aged over 65 years old who lives in the launch site, and is over 65, but is already on the Disability Support Register (Victoria), they will continue to get supports from the block funding at the Agency’s disposal
Q. Why doesn’t the NDIS help people over 65 years old with a disability?
The Federal Government is responsible for Aged Care services in Australia. From 1 July 2012, the new ‘Living Longer, Living Better’ program came into effect with measures such as:
- additional support and care to help older people remain living at home;
- additional help for carers to access respite and other support;
- establishing a gateway to services to assist older Australians in finding information and to better navigate the aged care system;
- Self directed funding.
Through Living Longer Living Better, Extra Home Care Packages have already been made available by the Government.
More information on the Government’s Living Longer Living Better program can be found online at http://www.livinglongerlivingbetter.gov.au/.
Q. What is Vision Australia doing for people in the over 65 age group who won’t be eligible for support?
Vision Australia is advocating and campaigning on the need for funding for specialist services to people in this age group because we know they will continue to need supports. We have made submissions to government and decision makers and worked with our sector partners in disability and aged care to get a better outcome for seniors dealing with blindness.
We want to ensure that seniors with blindness or low vision are able to get the support they need:
- to feel physically and emotionally safe;
- remain connected to and engaged with their local communities, families, and friends;
- and remain living in their own homes for as long as possible doing their own everyday tasks.
Q. Does blindness affect seniors more than younger people?
Yes. We know blindness affects seniors at higher rates than younger people. The most common cause of blindness and vision impairment is age-related macular degeneration.
According to official government figures, the incidence of blindness and low vision increases with age.
The older you are, the more likely you are to be affected. And the number will grow as the population ages and lives longer.
- 0-9yo (0.25%) –1 in 400 Australians.
- 10-29yo (0.4%) –1 in 250 Australians.
- 30-39yo (0.48%) – 1 in 200 Australians.
- 40-49yo (0.6%) – 1 in 160 Australians.
- 50-59yo (1.13%) – 1 in 90 Australians.
- 60-69yo (3.39%) – -1 in 30 Australians.
- 70-79yo (5.67%) – 1 in 16 Australians.
- 80-89yo (9.59%) – 1 in 10 Australians.
- 90+yo (14.82%) – 1 in 7 Australians.
Q. Are Vision Australia services important for seniors?
We think so! Our services keep seniors independent, active, healthy and safe in the community – out of nursing homes and out of hospitals.
The publication, “Clear Focus – the economic impact of vision loss 2009,” produced by the Centre of Eye Research Australia (CERA) in conjunction with ACCESS Economics concluded that vision impairment prevents healthy and independent ageing and is associated with the following:
- Risk of falls doubled
- Risk of depression tripled
- Risk of hip fractures increased four to eight times
- Admission to nursing homes three years early
- Social dependence doubled
As a specialist disability services provider we know that, through specialist interventions and supports such as basic skill development, equipment provision, and effective support from trained people who have sound understanding of working with older people who experience vision loss greatly assists people to maintain connected to their family and the community, living independent, normal and safe lives.
Q. What does the age cut off of 65 years mean for Vision Australia?
More than sixty-five per cent of Vision Australia’s clients are aged over 65 years of age.
Most of our services to seniors are not funded. Of our total government funding ($30 million), just over $4 million comes from the ageing portfolio. We make up the remaining $60 million cost of providing services through vital fundraising efforts, investments and the generous support of the community.
Vision Australia is continuing to campaign, with the support of the community, for a better deal